Western Secret Serviceman of Putin's Main Rival
By AIA 27/12/06
Dec 28, 2006 - 7:55:00 AM
Boris Berezovsky, the disgraced Russian oligarch, openly calling for overthrow of President Putin, since the second half of the 1990s maintains close relations with the retired Major of one of the Western secret services. During his service in the intelligence this person had been specializing in the Soviet issues, and in 1989 he worked in Moscow, formally as a diplomat. At the end of the 1990s – beginning of 2000s, he participated in solution of the most confidential and delicate questions connected with Berezovsky’s commercial and public activity. What is more, the ex-Major of intelligence was related to providing of information security of the topmost financial and political projects of the oligarch. Till now the ties between them have been carefully kept back by both sides. Even among Berezovsky's confidants only a narrow circle of particularly repositories know about it. AIA obtained this information from a former high-ranking employee of one of the Western legal companies that, at the end of the 1990s, had a relation to the joint activity of the Russian oligarch and the ex-intelligence Major. As, on a peremptory request of our source, we can’t tell his name, we’ll tell only that his service colleagues had nicknamed him under the title of a tropical animal because of a certain visual similarity between them.
According to other sources, Berezovsky’s 50-yearold partner in question, was born in the Baltic region. In 1940, after the establishment of the Soviet authority in the Baltic countries, his parents were sent to camps in Siberia for 16 years. In 1969, the family immigrated from the Soviet Union to the West. In the 1970s, owing to his knowledge of Russian, he was accepted into the intelligence service. His specialization concerned the activity of the Soviet military advisors in several third-world countries. During the service he got lawyer’s education and after his resignation he was engaged in private business. In the 1990s, this man showed a special interest in the Russian market. Often visiting Russia, he had established personal relations with two oligarchs, who in the second half of the1990s had special influence on the entourage of the then President Boris Yeltsin. Boris Berezovsky was one of them. At the same time, a few big businessmen known for their contacts with the ruling elite of Central Asia and the South Caucasus were among the main partners of the retired Major. One of them, who had made his wealth on deliveries of arms to the Far East region, in 1991-93 financed the governmental projects in the agriculture of Tajikistan and Kazakhstan. The other one, also former intelligence servicemen, was considered one of the closest figures to the President of Turkmenistan, Saparmurat Niyazov, and was lobbying his interests in Washington. The third, a retired intelligence Colonel, had worked more than ten years in Iran, and in 1993, under a personal agreement with President Eduard Shevardnadze, was engaged in major deliveries of small arms and ammunition to Georgia. Level with the enterprise activity, the former intelligence Major kept his contacts with the representatives of his country’s state apparatus. In 2003 he was involved in propaganda campaign accompaigning the operation in Iraq. A year later, this man fully returned to the public service. Since that moment, under orders of his government, he constantly stays in London, the city, where since 2001 lives Boris Berezovsky. At the beginning of the 2000s, it seemed that similar contacts may bring considerable advantage to the disgraced oligarch. By then he had been quickly losing control over his financial empire and had finally lost his almost unlimited influence on the Russian political elite.
According to the Forbes magazine, in the second half of the 1990s, Berezovsky was considered the richest man in Russia, and his wealth was estimated in three billion dollars (by the way, he had confirmed that the calculus is close to the reality). The oligarch ranked himself among the seven bankers who were supervising more than a half of the whole Russian economy. The first in the country autodealer of the Western type, LogoVAZ, three commercial banks, state-owned Aeroflot airlines, one of the Russian oil giants Sibneft, and the largest aluminium company RUSAL, were incorporated in his empire. A special place there belonged to the mass media component: two TV channels (including the ORT – the only channel, covering all Russia and the CIS republics), one radio station and four popular printed media outlets. Some of the listed structures, for example LogoVAZ, were created as auxiliary bodies within major state enterprises. Others appeared in the Berezovsky's empire as a result of purchase of a part of shareholdings that enabled him to appoint his proteges to supervising posts in these companies (so it was in the ORT case). Structures of the third type were formally not at all connected with the oligarch, however their management consisted of his authorized representatives, and the finance administration was carried out by the Berezovsky’s controlled banks and firms (the Aeroflot situation was such an example, according to the Russian Office of Public Prosecutor). Berezovsky explains the origin of his empire by his own uniqueness, intuition, his «skill to forcast». According to him, still before the collapse of the USSR, he had been one of a few people who «at one time before others had understood that the state property would cease to exist, and had not only understood but were ready to fight for taking it». It follows from the charges of the Russian Office of Public Prosecutor, many financial manipulations had been concealed behind these words. With the beginning of investigation of the oligarch’s activity in Switzerland, in November 2003, Valentin Roschacher, the country’s Federal Prosecutor, had declared: «We should not underestimate the danger that proceeds from the economic networks that have appeared as a result of the uncontrolled privatization in Russia, as they serve for carrying out of illegal operations». The Russian-Swiss version is supported by the known American financier and philanthropist Georges Soros whom it is hard to suspect of ties with the Kremlin. Back in 2000, he wrote: «I had tried to prove to him the advantage of the legalized capitalism as opposed to the extortionate capitalism (…). Berezovsky could not pass to the legalized capitalism; his only chance to survive consisted in creating a web of illegal ties and to entrap different people in it». Berezovsky and his opponents converge in one: creation of such a huge financial empire had become possible owing to protection of the first Russian President Boris Yeltsin and his nearest entourage. Practically all the largest commercial undertakings of the oligarch leaned on support of the government or the presidential administration.
Boris Yeltsin and Boris Berezovsky In first half of the 1990s, Berezovsky established close relations with a number of Yeltsin’s confidants, in particular with the chief of the Presidential Security Service (SBP), Alexander Korzhakov. Although, still in 1994, Berezovsky had paid for the publishing of Yeltsin’s book, Notes of a President, he achieved a decisive influence on the country leaders two years later, due to his role in Yeltsin's re-election for the second term. Berezovsky was not only the initiator of an alliance between the biggest oligarchs with an aim of financing of the pre-election campaign, but he also participated in the development of its strategy, and in its propaganda maintenance, using the mass media of his own empire. It had allowed him to win a special benevolance of the head of the state. Berezovsky subsequently spoke about his relationship with Yeltsin: «I never aspired to show that Boris Nikolaevich owes me more more than I owe him». In his turn, Soros marked thereupon: «His influence on Yeltsin one can explain by those questionable favors which he had rendered to the members of his family». By virtue of participation in Yeltsin’s pre-election campaign, Berezovsky got an access to the big politics. Between 1996 and 1999 his influence not only in Russia, but also in other CIS countries reached its peak. During the given period he held the posts beginning with the Vice Secretary of Russia’s Security Council, and then the CIS Executive Secretary; he was adviser of the head of the presidential administration and member of the Federal Commission for the Chechen Republic. The status of a high-ranking official allowed Berezovsky to establish relations with leaders of many post-Soviet republics. Oligarch’s owned mass media, especially the ORT TV channel, that had influence on public opinion in the CIS countries (for instance, the ORT played not the last part in the pre-election campaign of the President of Kazakhstan in early 1999) favored it. Berezovsky developed special activity in the Caucasus, where he negotiated the routes of transportation of the Azerbaijan and Central-Asian oil to Europe, and also the settlement of conflicts in the Chechnya, Abkhazia, the South Ossetia and the Upper Karabakh. However, subsequently the ex-chief of intelligence of the Chechen separatists, Nadir Sultan Elsunkayev, alleged in the interview to the Rossiskaya gazeta, that Berezovsky «while the Vice Secretary of the Security Council, pursued personal, not as much as state interests». Asked what these personal interests were, his answer was – «the Central-Asian oil». Berezovsky did not confine himself to the post-Soviet space, laying claim for a role of an international-scale politician. His negotiations with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Oman, which took place in September 1997, brightly demonstrated it. According to the news agencies, they discussed the situation in the Middle East, in particular the settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict (only one year prior to that, the oligarch expatriated himself from the Israeli citizenship).
Creator and Foe of New Rule
Berezovsky was interested not only in politics. He paid big attention to the secret services. According to the Russian press of that time, as early as in the summer 1996, Berezovsky was involved in displacement of the head of the Presidential Security Service (after which the service was disbanded) and of the head of the Federal Security Service (FSB). Nikolay Kovalev, the following Director of the FSB, having hold this office exactly two years, also accused Berezovsky of haveing part in his resignation. He told that the oligarch actively interfered in the FSB personnel matters, and finally, he had achieved the dismissal of «more than 150 skilled operatives». Kovalev marked in this connection: «strong security bodies are not necessary in order to divide the state ownership, they are even dangerous. And those are just the participants of this sharing who are inteersted in weakening of the security services». Almost simultaneously, the Novgorodskiye vedomosti reported on Berezovsky's plan to create a special services' coordination centre for fight against terrorism within the CIS Secretariat (in truth, the CIS Antiterrorist centre was created, but already without Berezovsky's participation, in June 2000). Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin, the former deputy head of the presidential administration, was appointed the new Director of the FSB. Berezovsky, in interview to the Italian daily La Repubblica, subsequently recollected that they got acquainted at the beginning of the 1990s, when Putin worked in the St.Petersburg Mayor’s Office. In the further they together participated in the work of President Yeltsin’s administration; Putin was the deputy head, Berezovsky was the adviser to the head of administration. According to the oligarch, already being the FSB Director, Putin did not hide his contacts with him, though at that time Berezovsky was in rigid confrontation with the Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov.
In three years, in the interview to Zavtra newspaper, Berezovsky told in detail about how, in 1999, he had played a crucial role in Putin's promotion to the post of the Prime Minister, and then - to the post of the President. In other performance he claimed that he had financed Putin's pre-election campaign. According to the oligarch, he had also generated the idea of creation of the future ruling party - United Russia (Edinaya Rossia). In the interview to Zavtra, Berezovsky named himself the person, «who had been creating this rule». Late in 1999, answering the questions of the Kommersant edition, Berezovsky said: «Putin, certainly, is the person by whom I consider that I not simply could live in Russia, but also could be useful (…). I agree, Putin did originate from the security services. It is a very tough, - as I see now, after colliding with it, - a very consecutive, a highly professional system (…). But my understanding is that Putin is a progressive element of this system». And even in the spring of 2000, few months prior to his immigration from Russia, asked by the Dutch paper De Telegraf: «are you afraid of dictatorship?», Berezovsky replied: «There is no question about dictatorship. Threat of dictatorship is just an instrument in the hands of Putin’s opponents. Putin does not strive for a dictatorship. He aspires for consolidation of power in Russia, and then – for consolidation of the Russian society». In the same interview, the oligarch stated in connection to the Moscow terrorist attacks in 1999: «I have proofs that the bombs were planted by the Chechens, not by the FSB». Moreover, Berezovsky supported strengthening of the Russian secret services, motivating it by the fact that «the criminality and corruption in the country should be eradicated by corresponding measures. The same concerns the flight of capital abroad».
However, not so much time passed and the oligarch began to voice absolutely opposite things: «The terrorist attacks are handwork of the FSB» (Le Temps, February 2002); «(…) the main enemy of reforms and generally of normal development of Russia are not the Communists, but the secret services» (Zavtra, October 2002); «Putin's autocratic intentions are too obvious since the spring 2000, from the beginning of his creeping anticonstitutional coup d’etat» (The Daily Telegraph, November 2003); «Vladimir Putin is the terrorist number one (…). He is a war criminal making genocide» (New Perspectives Quarterly, September 2004). Although the essence of charges put forward by Berezovsky is reduced to the thesis that «Putin’s policy completely contradicts democracy», the oligarch acknowledged in the interview to Zavtra newspaper: «As I was getting acquainted with the West, there was, if not an insight, than a constant revaluation. And unfortunately I could not see any additional advantages of democracy, only more and more disadvantages». Accusing Putin in trample of democracy, Berezovsky shows his own disappointment in it. In addition, in his struggle against the Kremlin, since 2002, he began to demonstrate his readiness for cooperation with the Communists and nationalists, who, as it is known, are standing rather far from the ideals of liberalism and the democratic values. We may assume that a sharp change in Berezovsky’s attitude towards Putin, was caused by motives of some other quality. Most likely, one should search for the guess in yet another revelation of the oligarch: «(…) we had to name the one who would be the next Russian President, that is - to find a person possessing the adequate qualities (…) the new president had to be able to provide the continuity of Yeltsin’s power, as well as to fix positions of the new elite in politics, economy, mass media, in the regions» (Le Temps, February 2002). As it is known, this was the very thing, in which Putin did not justify Berezovsky's expectations. The place, which in Yeltsin's environment was strongly occupied by the representatives of the «new elite» - the oligarchs, was given with Putin's arrival to his fellows from the KGB-FSB. A man, «who had been creating this rule», appeared among the main victims. Having lost his former political influence, in the autumn of 2000, he immigrated to the West. Then, according to his own words, «under a heavy FSB pressure», Berezovsky was forced to discharge all of his media projects, and also to sell out the shares of Sibneft and RUSAL. Having lost the status of «the Grey Eminence» of the Russian politics, the basic part of his huge financial empire, and even an opportunity to live in his native land, the disgraced oligarch declared a mortal war on Putin.
At the beginning of the 1990s, many people believed that the USSR collapse brings to a definitive end the centuries-long confrontation between the Russian Empire and the West. However, as early as in the second part of that same decade it became clear: although its form had overcome a change, this confrontation resumed. There is plenty of evidence of that: contradictions between Russia and the West on former Yugoslavia issues, Iraq, Iran, the Israeli-Arab conflict; increase in number of the so-called spy scandals of the Cold War type in Russia, in the USA, in Canada, and in Europe; granting of political asylum to the Kremlin’s opponents in Great Britain; struggle for the routes of transportation of energy carriers from the Caspian region. New spiraling of this confrontation was reflected in antithetic positions of Russia and the West in what concerned «velvet revolutions» in Georgia, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan, and the Andijan events in Uzbekistan, in 2003-2005.
In this context, Moscow officials, including the FSB head Nikolai Patrushev, accused western nongovernmental organizations and secret services in sabotage activity against a number of the CIS countries. Cardinal discrepancies between the West and Russia were emphasized in the speech of the US Vice President Dick Cheney in Vilnus, in May 2006. Going back to different episodes of the Cold War and statements of politicians, he made a division between «good» and «bad» former Soviet republics. The former were pro-western entities such as the Baltic States, and «revolutionary governments» of Georgia and Ukraine. The latter category included «Europe’s last dictatorship» – Belarus, and Russia. Cheney stressed that the USA was going to keep rendering all kinds of assistance to the pro-western forces of the post-Soviet space. According to Financial Times, this statement of the American Vice President was the most «hasty public veny that the USA has ever made against Russia». Nevertheless, Cheney’s speech does not at all show his hostile attitude towards Moscow, as the confrontation between Russia and the West does not apply that one of its parties is «bad», and the other one is «good». They simply represent different systems of moral values and political tradition, between which the cardinal discrepancies descend yet to the politico-religious antagonism between Byzantium and Western Europe.
Out of these profound discrepancies comes Russia’s realization of its unique mission in Eurasia, as well as the West’s historical ambition to stretch its influence in this region. Past geopolitical experience is strengthened by modern competition over the trade areas, energy resources, and communications. In this antagonism the USA is relying upon the «export democracy» strategy, combining different methods of propaganda and unofficial influence with financial aid programs. Russia in its turn exploits its cultural legacy of the Tsar and the Soviet empires, as well as Europe’s dependency on its energy carriers. Main arena for this contest is located in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and the Southern Caucasus. It is not by chance that the wave of «velvet revolutions» in 2003-2005 involved the key (Ukraine, Uzbekistan) or the most strategically “convenient” (Georgia, Kyrgyzstan) states of these regions. Apart from the energy issue, the USA has its interest in the Southern Caucasus and Central Asia due to their proximity to the Arab East, Iran, China, and India. Situation in Eastern Europe allows Washington to create a pro-American bloc in the EU framework, as well as to establish a strategic stronghold for further expansion of its influence to the East. For Russia, the Southern Caucasus and Central Asia traditionally are a «security zone» on the way of hostile forces from the South, be it the British expansion towards Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkestan in the 19th century, or the expansion of Islamic fundamentalism at the beginning of the 21st century. The Caucasus and Central Asia are historically assigned to be a stronghold of the Russian policy and trade in the Middle East and South Asia. Eastern Europe has a similar meaning for Moscow as far as the economic relations with Central and West European countries are concerned. Recent wave of this contest in Eurasia, which could be observed in 2003-2005, was not an occasional one. In this period President Putin managed to complete formation of a new state power system in Russia, and to determine his position on the main issues of regional and international politics. Therefore, the abovementioned events of 2003-2005 had been a sort of depressant of the Russian influence growth in the Southern Caucasus, Central Asia, and Eastern Europe. Besides that, majority of the CIS countries still form a common cultural and media space. This allows counting on a «domino effect» in realization of the «export democracy» strategy not only in case of the former USSR peripheral republics, but in case of Russia itself. All this becomes even more relevant, as the parliamentary and presidential elections of 2007-2008 in Russia approach.
At the beginning of the 1990s, ex-Communist Party functionaries’ raise to power in Russia met the objective interests of the West. Fast degradation of the state apparatus and the economic crisis deleted Moscow from the list of those participating in repartition of influence areas in the territory of the former socialist camp. They also opened a gate for the western companies to the Russian market and to the Caspian energy resources. Moreover, the Kremlin had lost its role of a counterbalance to the West in the Balkans, in the Middle East, South Asia, and Africa. In the second half of the 1990s, however, the situation began to change. Person who led Russia back to its Tsar and Soviet imperial traditions was the former Foreign Intelligence chief, Yevgeny Primakov, first as the Minister of Foreign Affairs (1996-98) and later on as the Prime Minister (1998-99). This could be clearly seen in Russia’s foreign policy. First discrepancies appeared then between Russia and the West concerning the situation in former Yugoslavia and the Middle East. Vladimir Putin, coming into power in 1999-2000, continued Primakov’s course in a large-scale and modern-reality-adopted form. His following the Uzbek model of an overall centralization of state administration system (Parliament, regions, economy, mass media), as well as an even more clear resurrection of imperial tradition in foreign policy, made the situation far less convenient for the West. Firstly, all these promoted restoration of Moscow’s influence in the former Soviet republics, inevitably undermining the USA positions in this area. This was most of all reflected in Central Asia, in 2005, after the coup in Kyrgyzstan and the Andijan events in Uzbekistan. Secondly, the reappearance of a new center of force in the international politics was actively exploited by the USA opponents, particularly in the Middle East and in Western Europe. This was reflected against the background of the Iraqi crisis (2003), when the European opponents of a military operation, namely Germany and France, were openly consolidating their efforts with Russia. Finally, Moscow started widely exploiting the energy issue as an instrument in its regional policy. This had a negative impact on the US allies in the Caucasus (Georgia), and in Eastern Europe (Ukraine, Poland, the Baltic States), raised the Kremlin’s influence Central Europe (Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia), and strengthened Germany’s position within the EU.
Oligarch’s «Great Game»
Evolution of the West’s attitude towards the power in Russia quite often matched with the changes in oligarchs’ position on this issue. At the beginning of the 1990s, degradation of state apparatus and economic crisis clearly met their interests. This allowed them to create their financial empires on the basis of the ex-state property. However, by the end of the decade, many oligarchs began to show a growing interest in «consolidation of power in Russia», to use Berezovsky’s words. By the end of Yeltsin’s second term they were making every effort in order to make his heir «secures the new elite’s positions». Besides that, nor less than did the special services’ veterans, the oligarchs strived to revive Russia’s statute of a Great World Power. Enhancing the Kremlin’s international position would have given them a chance to significantly broaden their activity abroad, having a full state support. «A strong man was needed, and I thought of the former KGB chief. He was strong enough (…)», Berezovsky told much later in the interview to Le Temps. It is for this reason that as early as in the first half of 2000 he firmly refuted all accusations concerning Putin’s strive for dictatorship, and stood for strengthening security bodies. At the same time, in the interview to Komsomolskaya Pravda, Berezovsky spoke about «Russia’s most important task, in his view, which is consolidation of the elites, formation of bodies and institutions that would serve as a basis of the new power. This is a difficult task, but it is far more substantial than, for instance, creation of a democratic opposition to Putin». When Putin rejected the idea «to strengthen positions of the new elite», the interests of several big oligarchs coincided with the interests of the West again. It is not by chance that in 2003-2006, there was a series of noisy scandals concerning Berezovsky’s ties with the «velvet revolutions» republics: Georgia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan.
In December 2003, the disgraced oligarch’s closest partner, Badri Patarkatsishvili, confirmed that Berezovsky visited Georgia and showed «lively interest in the situation in this country». He, though, had a much more evident role in change of power in Ukraine. In September 2005, the former president of this country, Leonid Kravchuk, stated that Berezovsky spent some $15 million to finance the Orange Revolution. It can be concluded from the interviews that the oligarch himself gave to Ukrainian mass media in 2006 that the sum, which was spent by him for this purpose, was at least twice as large. «I actively supported the Orange Revolution, and I don’t plan to decrease this activity», Berezovsky told Glavred internet edition. He also informed about being in a constant contact with the revolutionary leaders Viktor Yushchenko and Yulia Timoshenko, both on the eve and during the dramatic events in Kiev, at the end of 2004. Moreover, in the letter to Timoshenko that was publicized in the summer of 2005 (the oligarch confirmed that he wrote it in the interview to Novy region Ukrainian edition), he writes: «(…) I, personally, do not have any particular political interests in Ukraine, but I have a great interest in a possibility of influencing Russia from Ukraine (…) I were viewing my implicit support of your revolution primarily from the point of view of creating political stronghold for inflicting a defeat on the Putin’s regime in Russia». In November of the same year, speaking in the Oxford University, Berezovsky told that he had been allocating funds for political processes not only in Ukraine: «I spent about 25 million dollars trying to help the ex-USSR countries, including Lithuania, Ukraine, and others, to make this extremely difficult transition. I hope, all that money is spent not only in my personal interests, although all that we do, we do for ourselves. (…) I assume that what I were recently doing in Ukraine (…) favored the fact that the western society gave Ukraine a chance to join the western world». Relying on the abovementioned Berezovsky’s statements it can be concluded that he tried to exploit West’s interests in the post-Soviet territory, particularly aiming at restraining of Russia’s influence, in order «to create political stronghold to inflict a defeat on the Putin’s regime». Besides that, as a number of indirect features indicate, the oligarch shares aspiration of some Polish and Baltic officials to create East-European strategic alliance aimed at decreasing the EU dependency of Russian energy resources, as well as at assisting the pro-western forces in Ukraine and Belarus.
Berezovsky criticizes the West
Berezovsky did not want to limit himself to the peripheral post-Soviet republics, counting on cooperation with the West in what concerns Russia itself. As early as in July 2001, he offered Americans to work out a joint program aiming at restriction of the Kremlin’s positions at the Russian internal media market. In his interview to The Washington Post the disgraced oligarch said: «In order to make all local press in Russia financially independent, only some 30 million dollars a year is needed. My proposal is to give this money to nongovernmental civil organizations in the regions, and to pay for a socially significant advertisement». A bit later, on the pages of The Daily Telegraph Berezovsky told: «The West, when it enters a struggle for global security, should pay the same attention at Putin’s attacks against democratic institutions in Russia». However, main events in the world politics in 2001-2006 were clearly unfavorable for Washington’s open participation in the anti-Kremlin projects. Against the background of September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, debate about Iran’s nuclear program, HAMAS’ victory in Palestine and the war in Lebanon, as well as of increasing EU dependency on Russian energy resources and weakening of the US positions in Central Asia, President Bush’s administration, despite all internal arguments, needed a compromise with Putin and not an open confrontation. Judging from Berezovsky’s statements, the Americans did not support his proposals concerning Russian media market and his projects concerning other post-Soviet republics. In December 2003 they even ignored his request to get the American visa.
Although, in May 2002, he was still calling on Moscow «to realize the USA leading role in world politics», since the end of the same year Berezovsky started more and more showing his disappointment in the West’s position, criticizing the US administration. He acknowledged then: «I had fictional illusions concerning the West as a whole, concerning democracy as a way of state governing (…). As I was getting acquainted with the West, there was if not an insight, than a constant revaluation. And unfortunately I could not see any additional advantages in democracy, only more and more disadvantages». In the same interview Berezovsky emphasized: «I understand how conjunctural West’s considerations are, how rational. If today the West needs Putin, everyone can be handed over for that sake, even one’s own mother». At the same time he started criticizing the USA activity in Afghanistan and Iraq, an stood out against Russia’s participation in the antiterrorist coalition: «America, that is unable to protect itself, is driving us into a global ‘antiterrorist operation’, and we are proud that, together with America, we returned to Afghanistan. Putin is glad that he is America’s teammate (…) not realizing that by doing so he invites the Islamic World’s strike on Russia».
A year later, in November 2003, in Le Monde article, Berezovsky voiced his position on the same topic, but already in another, more demanding tone: «The West should finally open its eyes and acknowledge that Russia, which is being built by Putin, won’t be a good neighbor. Western leaders should cease supporting him. They must not admit the legitimacy of Putin’s acts just for the sake of an instantaneous political benefit – for the sake of the help in Iraq, or in fighting terrorism (…)». Two years later, appearing in Oxford again, the disgraced oligarch made a clear demarcation between Clinton’s administration, when «the USA had done a lot» for Russia, and the US current policy, which «does not have any strategy concerning the former Soviet Union». In this connection he claimed: «Today in Iraq the United States are spending 100 billion dollars a year, while allocation of only 50 billion in Russia could give this country a brilliant possibility to become a part of Europe and western world. Unfortunately, I know only one real strategist in the western world – and its Mister Brzezinski. In his book The Grand Chessboard he wrote that the one who controls Eurasia, controls the whole world. And he is absolutely right». Finally, already in June 2006, in his interview to the Ukrainian Noviy region edition, Berezovsky announced: «Bush, who became a leader of the democratic world as a result of the elections, does not at all fits this role». No close cooperation with Washington was achieved. However, Berezovsky still can count on support of the other disgraced oligarchs who found refuge in the West, some pro-western politicians in the CIS and East-European countries, and certain representatives of the neoconservative old generation in the US Republican Party.
Strategy of revanche
In the abovementioned letter to Yulia Timoshenko, Berezovsky noted: «For me, the money is long ago a political instrument. I keenly need it to continue political projects». In the same document he gives an evaluation of cost of «the Putin’s regime overthrow» – from $1.5 to $2 billion. Speaking in the Oxford University, the disgraced oligarch claimed: «Since I found myself in London, I spend a lot of money to create an opposition in Russia». As early as in December 2000, Berezovsky created international Foundation for Civil Liberties, which is aimed at «promoting the development of civil society in Russia». Four years later, in the interview to Komsomolskaya Pravda, head of the foundation’s Moscow branch Alexander Podrabinek told about its activity in Russia in a more sincere way. «We distribute grants among the organizations, which aim at opposing the system of the state suppression of civil liberties (…). We give money for rallies and street marches», Podrabinek said. According to him, a demonstration of three thousand participants costs «few thousands of dollars». Head of the foundation’s Moscow branch acknowledged that «we are financed by Berezovsky (…). During the past three years he allocated three million dollars». However, the oligarch’s activity did not come down just to the «development of civil society». Nor less actively was he trying to create a foothold in the Russian Parliament. «I am trying to construct a political party in Russia. A really oppositional party that would struggle for power (…). Today I declare with absolute sincerity that I shall struggle for power in Russia», Berezovsky told in June 2001. Few weeks later he was convincing the Italian journalists: «Till the end of the year Russia will have a new president. And that won’t be Putin. I know that he will come from the governors (…)».
As this did not happen, since November 2001 the oligarch started actively supporting the Liberal Russia (Liberalnaya Rossia) movement, which split off the largest liberal party – The Right Forces Union (Souz Pravih Sil). In spring of the following year this movement was transformed into a political party with the same name. Berezovsky became one of its co-chairs. He actively participated in financing and developing of Liberal Russia’s ideological platform. However, as early as in autumn 2002, the party actually split into oligarch’s adherents and opponents. A year later, much because of the inner contradictions, the party did not manage to get a right to participate in the parliamentary elections. The moment it became clear that he would not realize his political plans with the help of Liberal Russia, Berezovsky established contact with his former opponents – the leftist radicals and the nationalists. In October 2002, in London, he met with the representative of the Popular-Patriotic Union ‘Motherland’ (Rodina), Viktor Alksnis, and the activist of the leftist-nationalist movement, Alexander Prohanov. According to Novie Izvestia: «Participants of these talks agreed to continue consultations on creation of a broad front of the liberal-patriotic forces». At the same time, Berezovsky called on liberals and patriots «to make a step towards each other». He also acknowledged his «main mistake» – active participation in counteraction to the Communists during the presidential elections of 1996. In April 2003, in the interview to Reuters, Berezovsky announced about his readiness to allocate $100 million for creation of a political union, capable of resisting President Putin. After half a year, in his article in The Daily Telegraph, the oligarch made the following prognosis: «I assume that in March 2004 Putin won’t be reelected for the presidency by the Russian people». When this prognosis did not prove to be true as well, Berezovsky announced in July 2005: «Today the issue of power in Russia already cannot be solved at the voting stations. As it happened in Ukraine, in Lebanon, and in Kyrgyzstan, it will be solved on the streets».
The disgraced oligarch outlined the essence of this new strategy in a more detailed way in February 2006, talking to the Agence France Presse correspondent. AFP cited Berezovsky: «President Putin violates the Constitution, and today any violent actions of the opposition will be justified. This concerns violent seizure of power as well. And it is exactly on this that I am working on now (…). For the past one and a half year we are getting ready to seize the power in Russia by force». Berezovsky stressed: «This will take place before 2008, the year of the next presidential elections». According to this fierce defender of democracy, «Majority and crowd had never interested me. They are always conservative. All changes will be carried out by the active minority, as it happened in Ukraine». Berezovsky explained that he relies «not only upon the elite, the military, the mass media, the business circles, and the secret services. One should plan for all and each one, not excluding possibility of a union with the former opponents». Following this statement, the British authorities warned the oligarch that if he continues making declarations that contradict the UK laws, he can be deprived of his political refugee status. Responding to that, in March 2006, Berezovsky explained that he does not plan a violent overthrow of Putin, and that he only meant a «forceful interception of power» with accordance to the Georgian-Ukrainian model. However, few weeks prior to that, in the interview to Glavred online edition, the oligarch told: «I don’t want to disclose the technology before the time has come, but this is not Maidan (central square in Kiev where the main events of the Orange Revolution were taking place. Ed.)». By this he gave a clear sign that the Russian «interception of power» will be cardinally different from the Ukrainian revolution. What exactly Berezovsky plans to do as the presidential elections in Russia approach remains a mystery. In this connection it might be interesting to bring his opinion about the main reasons of the USSR collapse. In November 2005, talking in the Oxford University, he particularly emphasized the national (ethnic) factor. «When today they say that the Soviet Union collapsed because of Yeltsin and Gorbachev, I ask one and only question: are they so ingenious to split it exactly according to the ethnical borders? And why did it split like that? It split like that because there was the Uzbek, the Turkmen, the Ukrainian, and the big brother – Russian», Berezovsky told Zavtra newspaper.
DPNI demonstration In this connection it is noticeable that in August 2005, only three weeks after his statement that «the issue of power in Russia already cannot be solved at the voting stations», a mass interethnic clashes began in the Astrakhan Area (Southern Russia). About three hundred of Kalmyks and Chechens. Exactly one year later, even more massive clashes with the Chechens’ participation, took place at the end of August – beginning of September 2006, in the North-West of Russia, in republic of Karelia (near the Finnish border). About two thousand participated in these events, more than a hundred were detained. As the investigation started, Korelia’s Deputy Prosecutor stated that the riots were planned in advance and well organized. According to him, «This was a sort of rehearsal (…). Similar actions can take place in other Karelia towns, and in other regions of Russia». Authorities also noticed the active role of the Movement against illegal immigration (DPNI) in this incident. This movement has its offices in many Russian cities, as well as in Ukraine and in Belarus. Its actions are distinguished by a high organizational level, and its financial sources are not being disclosed. Ideological direction of publications on the DPNI website fully matches the postulates of the Russian nationalism (the movement is led by Aleksandr Belov former member of ultra-nationalist Pamyat). Disorders in Karelia certainly had a negative impact on Putin’s image, and it is not by chance that he publicly promised to «deal with» with the local officials, and ordered personnel shifts in Karelian security bodies. However, in 2006, the main opponent of the Russian President was paying a much bigger attention to «proving the illegitimacy of the current Russia’s regime» in the West. «This is a very important work, and it will be continued», Berezovsky told in February 2006. The same month, in the interview to Akzia newspaper, he said: «(…) a huge propaganda is unfolded in the West, aiming at showing the West that the regime is long ago non-democratic, and, what is more, unconstitutional». Excellent possibility to make sure of that was presented to the western public in November of the outgoing year. But all the activity of deposed Russian «emperor» in the last six years was a mere preparation for the main and final action, which, according to his own words, «will take place before 2008, the year of the next presidential elections», in other words – in the coming 2007…
Source: Ocnus.net 2007